Matthew Hulsizer has run out of patience with political officials in Glendale, Ariz., and pulled his bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The Chicago businessman still plans to buy an NHL team but is not sure which team will draw his attention. Even though several teams contacted Hulsizer once his interest in the Coyotes became known last year, he has been concentrating solely on the Coyotes.
Hulsizer tried for months to buy the financially crippled team from the NHL but was not able to come to an arena-lease agreement with the suburban city of Glendale. He dropped out Monday after Glendale officials backed away from Hulsizer's offer to raise the money he was willing to put into the deal by $35-million (all currency U.S.).
Hulsizer, who declined to comment, was told Glendale has two other buyers lined up for the Coyotes. One is believed to be Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Bulls. The other is an unknown group that a source said is thought to have contacted Glendale recently but has not looked at any of the Coyotes' books.
Apparently Hulsizer was informed that the city wanted to restart the bidding process with him and the other two groups. He felt time was running out to take over the team and prepare for next season and declined to participate. Glendale officials could not be reached for comment.
The NHL wants $170-million for the Coyotes to cover its costs in buying the team out of bankruptcy. Hulsizer was never willing to pay that much, so negotiations involved Glendale and a lease for Jobing.com Arena.
At one point, Hulsizer had a tentative agreement with Glendale that was to provide him with $100-million up front from a municipal bond deal, plus $97-million over five years for managing the arena. He was to put up another $70-million.
But opposition from the Goldwater Institute, a public watchdog, stalled the bond deal and almost saw the team sold to Winnipeg interests. But to prevent the team from moving, Glendale city council stepped in to pledge $25-million toward the Coyotes' operating losses for next season, bringing the city's subsidy for the team to $50-million over the last two years.
While the NHL gave Glendale a deadline of Dec. 31 to find a buyer willing to keep the team in Glendale or it would sell it to any buyer, those close to the situation believe city officials became emboldened when Winnipeg landed the Atlanta Thrashers this month. Reinsdorf, whose local representative, John Kaites, is a veteran Republican political power broker who is a close friend of Glendale city manager Ed Beasley, has been in and out of the Coyotes picture several times.
The irony is that Hulsizer was enticed to bid for the Coyotes when fellow Chicagoan Reinsdorf dropped out of the sale a second time because he did not want to put much of his own money into the deal. A source familiar with the negotiations said if Reinsdorf is back in the picture, it is unlikely he will be willing to put up any more of his own money than Hulsizer was.